Calling foul on the Patty Mills flop
When Hollywood comes to the hoops court the result is an unseemly act called the "flop". And it is raising its ugly head in the Australian NBL this season.
Basketball leagues worldwide are doing their darndest to rid themselves of the cursed travesty of justice, where a defensive player simulates contact and goes sprawling backwards in dramatic fashion to draw an offensive foul.
The "flop" is considered neither fair nor clever and serial practitioners of the dark art tend to be sneered at. It is basketball's version of football's hideous dive.
And it just so happens the best player in the Australian NBL has revealed himself as a flopper after the cameras caught him perfectly in the act last weekend in a game against the Cairns Taipans.
Patty Mills would normally be plying his trade for the Portland Trailblazers in the NBA but the lockout has seen him head back to his homeland for a stint with the Melbourne Tigers.
Now Mills has been fingered as a flopper after he produced a classic example of it in drawing a non-existent foul against Taipans guard Jamar Wilson in the third quarter of their clash in Melbourne (check out irrefutable proof on YouTube).
That incident drew a flurry of criticism on social media networks and inspired commentator Steve Carfino to label it the worst call he had seen in the league all season.
The Australian NBL admits the referee got the call horribly wrong – Mills should have been slapped with a technical foul – and they have called on officials to help stamp out the practice.
"That was clearly an instance when a charge should not have been called," an NBL spokesperson said.
"We haven't been happy with how the points of emphasis in regards to charging or flopping have been called over the first five rounds, and that one call in particular highlighted the need for better consistency."
NZ Breakers players spoken to reckon the NBL needs to go the same way as the top leagues in Europe and come down hard on those using acting, rather than basketball skills to draw fouls.
Breakers coach Andrej Lemanis reckons the NBL have been guilty of not understanding how prevalent the practice had become.
"We had a meeting pre-season with the refs' adviser and were told he didn't think flopping was a problem," said Lemanis. "I think it's a bigger problem than the league is prepared to admit.'
Lemanis did not want to see the genuine skill of drawing a charging foul taken out of the game.
And he admitted there were times defensive players were legitimately sent sprawling.
"[But] there are flops that are obvious and we shouldn't be suckered into them. The worst thing is we tend to reward them right now, and that's why people keep doing it."
Mika Vukona admits there's a fine line between looking to sell a genuine charging foul and creating the illusion of one, but says there is no place for the latter in the game.
Adds CJ Bruton who's sold a call or two in his time:
"It definitely has to be looked at. In Europe they used to do it a lot, but got it out. In the NBA you can't do that.
"Obviously Patty is good at what he does, but at this point, using that situation as an example, the refs need to clear it up."
The message is clear: flop at your peril.